You, Not Them: Why a Commitment to Your Own Education is Critical

It is perhaps a widely accepted idea that most people hope their children will “do better than they did.” What if I told you that in education, that isn’t likely to happen?

I don’t mean for this to discourage you. I mean for this to motivate you.

My mentor, author Oliver DeMille, wrote in his book A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century that, “In our modern society, whenever education is the subject, we always want to talk about the kids. We care about them, and we know their education is important, but we also find that it’s easier to talk about their education than to improve our own. In reality, you are unlikely to pass on to your children a better education than you have earned yourself, no matter how much you push them or how good the teachers… Children tend to rise to the educational level of their parents…The most effective way to ensure the quality of their education is to consistently improve your own.” (Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century. Cedar City, UT, 2006.)

Or, in other words, education is about YOU, not them.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with our mutual journey into 2023 so far. In January we examined resolution and Providence. Now we’re ready to move onto the next step in our journey: the resolve to become.

I cannot help but share with you something I’ve learned through the blessings of my personal life experience as a founder of the John Adams Academies and through years of experience in the realm of education: becoming and learning are inextricably intertwined. In becoming your greatest self, you must resolve to improve your learning, to expand your knowledge, and add to your own education.

I’m not suggesting you enroll in a formal school but I am hoping that after a year of sharing my own journey, experiences, life-lessons and hard-won wisdom you will trust me to walk into the next steps.

On my blog and in my newsletters, we started in Plato’s Cave.

In my own life, I started in a world of unexacting education.

For much of my high school and college years I was nurtured on a “fast food” academic diet that was rich in textbook snippets of facts, figures and rote memorization for passing multiple choice tests. But to discuss or write a coherent paragraph on ideas was foreign to me. I was good at repetition of key words and concepts enough to pass the test. You know the routine; I call it the law of the school: pass the final exam, get the grade, move along on the conveyor belt.

Eventually, I aspired to have a classical education like my wife. Linda was educated in British schools around the world. Her grasp of American and British Literature was exemplary to me. However, to move to an education built on enormous amounts of reading, discussion and writing was a monumental decision and change for me.

When I invite you on a journey of resolve for better education, I understand exactly what I’m asking because I have journeyed the path myself—and indeed I’m still learning and traveling.

This month, Linda and I would like to share with you some inspiration to either begin, recommit, or resolve to expand your own education in 2023. The concept of “you, not them” is key to the mission of our academies and to our personal lives. We hope you will trust us to direct you and to inspire you… and, most of all, walk alongside you.

Published by Dean Forman

I am co-founder and CEO of the John Adams Academies, an institution that is perhaps the most unique charter school system in America today. The Academies’ curriculum is designed to give its students an American Classical Leadership Education®. This is an education that pursues truth, beauty and goodness and turns its scholars outward in search of those whom they can serve in becoming servant leaders. This website is dedicated to sharing the concepts of an American Classical Leadership Education with its readers so that more citizens can benefit from the truth, virtue and wisdom of the past. The thoughts and opinions I share on this page are my personal views.

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